It was a plain white envelope quite large, laying in the mailbox, a name and return address, nothing out of the ordinary until I realized there were no stamps, just a marking, Postage Paid Melbourne Vic.
Inside was a magazine and within two poems with which I was familiar but which were now being read on the opposite side of the globe and I had to wonder what the Aussies would think of a crazy, aging Yank poet.
Tonight, if all goes well, I will be a monk in a good-sized Buddhist temple. I am hoping it will be in Nara, at Todai-ji perhaps, or Asakusa at Senso-ji, or better still somewhere in Kyoto, although it might well be in the Myanmar jungle or somewhere deep within the Laotian highlands.
One problem with that world is that I have no control over it, which, come to think of it, leaves it like the waking world which has never hewn to my direction.
I’ve had this desire for weeks on end, and I suspect tonight will be no different, and I will spend eight hours sorting files, writing cease and desist letters and trying to convince myself that even that is a form of mindful meditation and abiding kensho will arrive in the next rapid eye movement.
I admit I am an odd duck, odder for not being a duck at all. But the expression has a certain je ne sais quoi to it, as does that expression and I am all about language. All that is a long round about way of acknowledging that I have always wanted to use the word antiphonal in my writing. I’m not terribly religious, and what faith I had has long been shaken by a world gone mad. Or at least a country gone mad. And even when I had some faith, I subscribed to the syllogism that religions music was to music, as military food was to food. We won’t even mention military music, that is an abject oxymoron.
It has a certain heft that says something substantial lies within, waiting to be freed. It glides easily, suggesting an effortlessness you know is a tease, that labor still waits. Still, it does said comfortably, is appealing to the eye, has the deep jade green along its barrel, the knots interwoven top and bottom that say what lies within cannot be easily unraveled. As you draw it across the page you hope that somewhere in Neamh old Robbie will look down on you, smile and share a thought or two, but that you know, is for another day.
It is well past time I wrote a poem about the great joys of my childhood, for memory should bubble up like lava through the crust of time, they should rain in flashes as so much matter dropping into the atmosphere in their ultimate light show. This isn’t going to happen, of course, whether because memory has grown dim over time’s distance or for lack of subject matter. At 68, the difference hardly matters for a blank page hardly cares which pen chooses not to write it.
It should come as no surprise, for both Buddhism and Hinduism grew out of the same fertile soil. An older Hindu man said, “do not look for your Guru. When you are ready, your Guru will find you.” I knew the Buddhist equivalent, and its corollary, when the student is ready, the teacher disappears. My poetry professor’s yin couldn’t grasp my yang, and I am still waiting patiently for my poetic Guru but despite my growing age, he has yet to appear, but my spirituality seems on firm ground, so it may not really matter. But during my weight, I have found Oatley, Duval, Rose, Kirk, Cullen, and though I have met none, and not a one has found me, the Nirvana they place in bottles at my disposal, that they willingly a ship from Australia, makes me wonder what other possible Guru I might need.